Counting Roses

“Butch, hold on.” Annie walked toward where the rotund teen stood, clothed fully in fencing practice equipment owned by the Bark Bay High School athletic department. She commanded Butch to lift his right arm, then reached to his armpit and poked two fingers through a large hole in his fencing jacket.

Coach Dan approached the two teens. “Good eye, Annie. Butch, that jacket’s not safe, go put a different one on.” He waved in the direction of the canvas sacks that housed their equipment.

“Aw man.” Butch sounded genuinely disappointed. “This is the only one that fits me good.”

Coach Dan shook his head. “Sorry, safety first. There’s a couple other extra larges in there.” He walked in the direction of the sakes, taking Butch lightly by the arm.

“Think we can get this one repaired?” Butch sounded to Coach Dan like a toddler asking a parent to buy an ice cream to replace the one he had just dropped.

“I’ll see if I have time one evening this week.” They had reached the sacks, Coach Dan searching through the one containing the team’s jackets. “Can’t send it out for mending. No room in the budget.”

Annie was now beside them, as Butch began taking off his torn jacket. “Shame. Would be nice to get some respect.”

“It’s not about respect, my friend, it’s about money.” Coach Dan’s voice was cool, analytical. “Economy’s weak, school budget’s tight. Everybody’s feeling the pinch. Heck, I’m glad we still have money to send our equipment out for laundry once a month.”

“Huh.” Butch sounded impressed. “I guess we should count our roses.”

Coach Dan and Annie turned toward Butch with confused expressions. Butch stooped down, retrieved a new jacket from the sack, stood and looked quickly back and forth between them. “You know — stop, and count the roses.”

Annie shook the confusion from her face. “Smell. Smell the roses.”

“And count your blessings,” Coach Dan added.

Butch nodded, as he put his right leg through the jacket’s crotch strap. “Exactly. It’s a finger of speech. It means that when you start thinking the world’s so bad, you have to stop and count the roses.”

“You mean smell them,” Annie insisted.

“Of course.” Butch now sounded almost offended. “But how can you smell your roses unless you count them first?”

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